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Toro Rosso will consider Honda requests on F1 2018 driver line-up

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Scuderia Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost says the team will take into consideration any requests from Formula 1 engine partner Honda when it comes to decide on its driver line-up for next season.

Toro Rosso and Honda announced a new engine partnership on Friday starting from next season, the Japanese marque having agreed a mutual split with existing customer team McLaren at the end of the year.

An off-shoot of the deal was Carlos Sainz Jr. moving up to Renault for 2018, freeing up at least one seat at Toro Rosso for next year, which currently also fields Daniil Kvyat.

Red Bull has used Toro Rosso as a first step in F1 for its young drivers, with 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly waiting for an opportunity to step up.

Honda has also aided the career of Japanese racer Nobuharu Matsushita in recent years as part of McLaren’s junior program, leading him to be linked with the Toro Rosso seat.

When asked about Toro Rosso’s driver plans for 2018, Tost said that no decision would be rushed into, with considerations from all parties being taken into account.

“Currently we have two quite successful and competitive drivers with Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz, and I assume that they will finish the season with us,” Tost said.

“Regarding the drivers for next year, Red Bull will decide who is driving with us, and of course we will also take into consideration any request from our partners.”

While Gasly appears to be a shoo-in for one of the Toro Rosso F1 seats in 2018, Matushita’s chances of stepping up seem limited given the requirement to score 40 FIA super license points in a three-year period.

As things stand, Matsushita has four points to his name, scored for coming ninth in GP2 in 2015, meaning he must finish in the top three of the F2 standings this year to hit the required figure.

With four races to go, Matsushita is sixth in the standings, 37 points shy of third-placed Artem Markelov.

Gasly takes second straight Super Formula win at Autopolis

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Pierre Gasly continued to strengthen his bid for a Formula 1 race seat by taking his second straight win in the Japanese Super Formula series on Sunday at Autopolis.

Gasly, 21, was placed in Super Formula for 2017 by Red Bull after winning the GP2 title last year, and took his maiden victory in the series at Motegi last month.

Gasly qualified fifth for Sunday’s race at Autopolis, but managed to jump up to second at the start before closing on early leader Tomoki Nojiri on the softer compound tire.

Gasly made his sole pit stop earlier than Nojiri, who by not reacting immediately handed the Frenchman the undercut and the chance to jump ahead.

A series of fast laps on fresher tires saw Gasly move into the lead once Nojiri pitted, with the Japanese racer then tangling with Kamui Kobayashi and dropping down the order.

Despite Formula E racer Felix Rosenqvist being within striking distance towards the end, Gasly was able to hold on and secure his second straight win, thrusting himself into the thick of the title fight.

Gasly sits 5.5 points shy of Hiroaki Ishiura at the top of the standings with three races to go, with Rosenqvist sitting just half a point further back after taking three consecutive podium finishes.

The result is well-timed for Gasly following reports that Carlos Sainz Jr. is poised to move to Renault as part of the deal that will see Toro Rosso take on Honda power units in Formula 1 next year.

Autosport notes in its report regarding the deal that Sainz could move across to Renault as early as the Malaysian Grand Prix should the team cut ties with Jolyon Palmer early, perhaps paving the way for Gasly to make his F1 debut at Sepang.

The Super Formula season continues in two weeks’ time at Sportsland SUGO, with the final double-header round being held at Suzuka on October 22, clashing with the United States Grand Prix weekend.

Gasly takes maiden Super Formula win at Twin Ring Motegi

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Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly strengthened his case for a Formula 1 seat in 2018 by taking his maiden victory in Japan’s Super Formula series on Sunday at Twin Ring Motegi.

Gasly, 21, was placed in Super Formula for 2017 after winning the GP2 Series title last year, and is vying for a seat with Red Bull B-team Toro Rosso in F1 next year.

The Frenchman started fourth at Twin Ring Motegi on Sunday, but was able to gain two places with a long opening stint before pitting and changing tires.

Toyota LMP1 racer Kamui Kobayashi enjoyed a comfortable buffer over the field, only for a slip up in his pit stop to cause him to drop far behind Gasly.

Gasly eased home to clinch his first victory in Super Formula for the Honda-powered Team Mugen, with Kobayashi left to settle for second place.

Formula E driver Felix Rosenqvist picked up his second podium finish of the season, taking third place ahead of Hiroaki Ishiura and Nick Cassidy.

Gasly is the leading Red Bull youngster pushing to step up to F1 in 2018, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat currently occupying the seats at Toro Rosso.

Sainz has been linked with a move away for 2018 – relying another team will buy him out of his contract – while Kvyat’s future remains uncertain given his struggles with Toro Rosso.

Gasly could theoretically make his F1 debut this year should Kvyat pick up two more penalty points on his FIA super license between now and the United States Grand Prix in October, which would trigger a race ban.

Gasly’s next racing commitment in Super Formula comes at Autopolis on September 10.

Gasly insists he’s ready for F1 chance amid Toro Rosso speculation

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RED HOOK, NY – Pierre Gasly feels he is ready to step up to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso in the near future amid ongoing speculation about the Red Bull B-team’s driver plans for 2018.

Gasly won last year’s GP2 title before being sent to the Japanese Super Formula series by Red Bull for 2017 as it opted to continue with its existing Toro Rosso line-up of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat.

Despite Sainz’s reluctance to spend another year with Toro Rosso and ongoing questions about Kvyat’s future, recent reports have suggested Red Bull plans to keep both on for 2018.

Gasly remains relaxed about his future F1 chances, though, saying that things remain fluid and that nothing is official until it is announced.

“For me my target is still the same. At the moment nothing is signed in Toro Rosso,” Gasly told NBC Sports.

“Of course at the moment everyone is talking with everyone, and every week it’s changing. Until it will be official, I think everything is possible.

“Of course my targets stay the same after winning GP2 last year. I just feel like I am ready for F1. I will keep pushing until it happens.”

When asked if he would consider finding a drive outside of Red Bull’s umbrella for 2018 if no opportunity came, Gasly said: “At the moment I’m just focused on F1, and then after we will see in a couple of months what will happen for next year.”

Gasly made his Formula E debut in New York last weekend with Renault e.dams, deputizing for Sebastien Buemi, and recorded two top-10 finishes, including a run to fourth place on Sunday.

“It’s been really exciting, really busy as well since yesterday to learn all the procedures and get used to the car, it’s been a lot of hard work,” Gasly said of his debut outing.

“But I really enjoyed it overall. We managed to score points in both races, we managed to go into Super Pole this morning with the fastest lap of the weekend.

“It’s been really positive with close racing on-track. Both races were good fun. It’s been a good experience.”

Gasly confirmed as Buemi’s replacement for Formula E in NYC

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Pierre Gasly will make his FIA Formula E Championship debut this weekend in the New York City ePrix after being confirmed to replace championship leader Sebastien Buemi, who will be on full FIA World Endurance Championship duty at the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring.

Gasly will step into Buemi’s Renault e.dams entry but only following a late arrival into New York following Red Bull simulator work. Apparent efforts to have gotten Buemi to only have to miss one of the two rounds of the NYC doubleheader have failed, and the Swiss driver will be in his usual Toyota TS050 Hybrid alongside Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima.

Although Gasly isn’t in a Formula 1 race seat this year he’s still been plenty busy in his Red Bull test role and with racing Super Formula in Japan, same as Felix Rosenqvist is.

No quotes were issued from Gasly in advance of the weekend but Renault e.dams principals Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot were less than thrilled at the much discussed weekend clash between the two championships.

“I deeply regret this clash between the WEC and Formula E which could have been avoided,” Prost said. “However, we have to move forward and we are very pleased to welcome Pierre Gasly. Racing in New York is going to be a challenge as he makes his Formula E debut at the end of the championship.”

Driot added, “This situation is regrettable because even without this clash, the championship is not a certainty. Despite this unfortunate setback, I hope that with Pierre Gasly’s invaluable assistance, Renault e.dams will be able to defend its winning chances in Montreal.”

Buemi holds a 32-point lead over Lucas di Grassi heading into the weekend with a maximum 58 points possible during the pair of races (157-125). Rosenqvist, who’s third in points, is outside that gap to overtake on only 86 points scored, 71 back of Buemi.

In the team’s championship, Renault e.dams holds – fittingly – a 58-point lead over ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport, 229-171.